FORT GIBSON, OK —
In close games, the teams that execute in the fourth quarter are the ones that win them.
On Friday night, Adair's girls did just enough in the all-important final stanza, wrestling a 3A area tournament championship away from No. 5 Verdigris with a 37-35 win at Fort Gibson.
Kylie Looney overcame a stagnant first quarter to pace the Lady Warriors with 16 points. Teammates Bailey Stephens and Molly Kerr added eight and seven points, respectively.
The teams were deadlocked at 11 after eight minutes. Adair gained some breathing room in the second quarter to take a three-point advantage (21-18) into the break.
The teams found themselves tied at 30 heading into the fourth quarter.
Both the Lady Warriors and Lady Cardinals played suffocating defense in the last period. Adair struck first, as Kerr and Looney hit shots on back-to-back possessions to take a 34-30 lead with six minutes to play.
Verdigris' Stacia Payne answered with a trey at the 5:31 mark. Payne led Verdigris with 11 points, including three 3-pointers.
The two teams traded buckets before Kerr hit the first of two free throws to give Adair the 37-35 lead with just over two minutes to play.
From there, defense took over. Neither team connected the rest of the way, and Adair took home the hardware — with the potential for more on the horizon.
The win cements the fourth-ranked and unbeaten Lady Warriors' place in next weekend's state tournament. Their foe is yet to be decided.
Importantly, it also means Adair will be a top-four seed in the state bracket, which will be released next week.
Verdigris is not eliminated from the area tourney but must win Saturday against Friday's Kansas/Eufaula winner to make it to state.
Adair Scorers — Looney 16, Stephens 8, Kerr 7, Raven Campos 3, Rendi Rogers 3.
Verdigris Scorers — Payne 11, Courtney Risenhoover 7, Lexie Collins 6, Bailiegh O'Dell 6, Caitlyn Hanslovan 5.